Borders are permeable

After driving across the US-Mexico border, I’m struck by how absurd our notion of national boundaries are. Borders are so much more permeable than we like to believe. It’s not only people slipping across these invisible lines, but culture too. An hour before you reach Mexico, you have already entered a watered-down version of it. You start to see more signs in Spanish; you find that it’s difficult to order a hamburger unless you know some Spanish; the number of taquerias and burrito stands explodes. And who are we kidding, at least half of the population looks like they come from a Mexican lineage.

The American influence continues deep into Mexico, too. As you travel further from the border, you find that people are less will (or able) to accept American dollars or speak in English.

The power imbalance between Mexico and the US creates this weird bubble on the other side of the border. Mexico’s border area is, to some extent, a playland for Americans. The laws are looser there, so Americans head down to participate in behaviors that would never even  occur to them at home. They stumble drunkenly through the congested streets; they search for powerful drugs and inhale them leaned against a post office; they solicit sex from women who may or may not be prostitutes, and become angered beyond belief when rejected. They keep their ears open for “donkey shows,” cock fights, and chances to watch women perform the most depraved acts with each other. They wander into pharmacies looking for anti-anxiety meds, pain killers, prescription acne lotions, speed, and male performance enhancers.

It reveals the dark side of humanity. I stayed for one day and a night, and then it was time to haul my maimed brain towards Mexico City.


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